Disaster assistance response teams (DART)

The Australian Government’s disaster assistance response teams (DART) are deployed to crises overseas to help save lives and return communities to normal.

Their urban search and rescue expertise is invaluable following earthquakes, cyclones and other disasters.  

Capabilities include:

  • Locating and removing people from rubble
  • Water rescue during flooding
  • Urgent repairs to critical structures
  • Managing hazardous materials or spills
  • Water purification and desalination

The Australian Government has deployed DART following numerous disasters including:

  • Tropical Cyclone Pam, Vanuatu 2015.
  • Solomon Islands flooding 2014
  • Japan earthquake and tsunami 2011
  • Christchurch earthquake, New Zealand 2011
  • Samoa tsunami 2009
  • Padang earthquake, Indonesia 2009

DART teams are drawn from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, and Fire and Rescue NSW.

These state fire services also contribute to the work of the International Urban Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG), which is a global network of more than 80 countries and organisations under the United Nations umbrella.

INSARAG upholds minimum international standards for emergency rescue teams and designs best practices for international coordination in emergency response.

Both state teams are classified as ‘heavy’ INSARAG teams—and are known internationally as Australian Taskforce 1 (AUS-1) and Australian Taskforce 2 (AUS-2) respectively.


Group of uniformed AUS-2 members
The NSW DART team preparing for INSARAG reclassification in 2017. Credit: Rebecca Redden
Last Updated: 7 August 2017
Team members in standing on rubble in front of burnt out building
The Queensland DART team conducting search and rescue activities in Christchurch in 2011. Credit: QFES
Team members fixing roof of buildings
The NSW DART team helped communities rebuild in Vanuatu following Cyclone Pam in 2015. Credit: FRNSW
Team members amongst rubble
The Queensland DART team conducting a search and rescue exercise in 2014. Credit: QFES